A terrified sailor has spoken out about the moment his vessel was attacked by killer whales who tore off his rudder and left him fearing for his life.
After a group of five orcas began following 70-year-old Phep Philouceros’s yacht as it sailed off the coast of Cape Vincent, Portugal, on Monday, the elderly sailor was forced to broadcast a Mayday signal when the killer whales began attacking his vessel.
Phep, who was travelling to Royan, France, managed to capture the shock attack, which saw two of the creatures start tearing off huge parts of his ship, a twin-keel boat called Oxygene, including the rudder.
He said that the two orcas made light work of the rudder, taking it apart in ‘one minute.’
The sailor also said he heard the hull itself crack, but did not see any water get in.
Phep, who was travelling to Royan, France, from Portugal managed to film the surprise attack as it happened
He said two of the five orcas started tearing his boat apart, ripping off its rudder and forcing him to broadcast a Mayday signal
The experienced sailor, who has been sailing for 55 years, said that he managed to get a decent look at the culprits: ‘I think there were young orcas. They were about six or seven meters long. They were neither adults or babies.
‘The attack wasn’t too violent. The boat moved, it rotated but didn’t capsize.
‘If the orcas really wanted to sink the boat, they could have done it easily. I don’t think it was their intention.’
But despite his brave words, he said that the group hassled him and his boat for a total of 45 minutes, even as he was being towed away by a rescue vessel.
His boat is now ashore in Sagres, where he’s waiting for it to be repaired.
The group ended up hassling him for around minutes, even as the rescue boat towed him away from the scene of the initial attack
Phep, an experienced sailor, said he’s never experienced anything like this in his 55 years of sailing
The retired navigator said he’s been out at sea for around three months, after leaving France
The retired navigator, who has been on deck since leaving Gruissan in France three months ago on his yacht, said that he’s never experienced anything like this in his decades of sailing.
The shock attack comes in the middle of a summer of orca attacks against ships.
Just last week, a group of killer whales left the crew of a 48-foot catamaran adrift off the coast of Gibraltar, with footage of the attack showing a whale tearing off a part of the boat needed for steering.
Scientists believe that young orcas are simply playing games when they ram boats and tear off important equipment, learning the dangerous behaviour from their elders.
The terrifying practice has been spreading across the world, with whales damaging vessels off the Iberian coast since 2020.
The attack comes in the height of a summer of orca attacks, which have seen boats across the world be attacked by killer whales
Scientists have said that the orcas are simply playing, having learned the behaviour from their elders
Experts have warned sailors in Portugal to try and keep to waters less than 20 metres in depth, and to try and stay vigilant to the presence of orcas.
But Phep said he checked for orcas in the area but did not find any evidence of them.
Phep knew there had been reported orca sightings in the area, so before he set sail from Sagres he checked an app which lists recent orca encounters.
He said: ‘I use an app called Orca Atlantica which lists orca encounters in the area and I also listen to what local authorities are advising.
‘After leaving Lagos and before reaching Cape St. Vincent, I stopped in Sagres to check the latest news on the app.
‘There hadn’t been any sightings of orcas that day so I went ahead but unfortunately I wasn’t lucky.’
I am Rakesh Sharma, I associated with Elite News as an Editor, since 2021. I take care of all the news operations like content, budget, hiring and policy making.